Life is all about Perspective

Photo by Anika Huizinga on Unsplash

I’ve been saying this for years.  

What I have learned about perspective is sometimes funny, at least for one side of the situation.  For example, during the recent deer hunting season my husband relayed a story about a hunter who was regaling him about how delicious suburban deer taste.  The residents who live in the suburbs care deeply for their bushes, shrubs with tender growth and flowers and lament the destruction deer do to them.  The hunters who later kill those well-fed deer can TASTE the expensive landscaping and he/she and their families appreciate and benefit from that.  I thought that was seriously funny and a PERFECT example of how depending which side of the fence you are on, (your perspective), you can relate.

Professionally, for a couple of decades, I have been working with folks who speak for a living and have matched up hundreds of corporate, association, government and education audiences with speakers.  The folks who I have booked sometimes have gotten no speaking fee for their time and a few have been in the $25,000 (plus expenses) PER HOUR range but most have fallen in the 5-10K area.  What I have always found is that the groups who have a really low budget for speakers are the most grateful planners and audience.  If they are a nonprofit and have maybe $1500 for a keynote slot and a speaker who usually gets a lot more for basically that same speech agrees to do it, those speakers are treated so WELL.  Those groups really appreciate the time, inspiration and energy a speaker shares with them.   

Sometimes the speakers have told me NO to the reduced fee invitation.  They tell me it’s about fee integrity and worry they would be cheapening  their “brand” to full fee clients by taking the severely reduced fee. 

It is a whole different world.  I won’t comment beyond saying, again, it is about perspective.  $1500 to one group is like that $25,000 to the other but everyone has a value in their mind for their time.  

Photo by Charlotte Karlsen on Unsplash

Next up is a story about a dear friend of mine.  She is a retired Army veteran and had two deployments, leaving her husband and two children, her company, family and community to serve our country.  During her final deployment in Afghanistan, she was blogging and I believe it was her final blog that really struck me.  It was called One Pullup and I remember being amazed at her courage and commitment.  Pullups are really hard for woman.  I have never been able to do one and have thought many times when I have a particularly challenging moment in my life about Chris and her success at setting the goal, working toward it and DOING IT.  Good for her.  One pullup may not be a triumph for an elite athlete, but it indeed was a triumph of body, mind and spirit for Chris.  It’s all about perspective.

My friend Richie died a few years ago.  He was in his mid-40s.  That is WAY too young.  Richie turned his financial life around by working a lot and was saving and saving and saving. He had 4 mortgage free properties and was paying for everything in cash, setting himself up for a stress-free early retirement.

I wanted him to have a romance, a relationship and I told him that.  He told me in no uncertain terms, “I want to retire in two years and the only thing that is going to F*&# that up is a woman.” 

One of the last times I saw Richie, he came to our house on the river and I had painted a quote that was hanging on the wall.  It begins…. Love Fiercely, Cry when Worthy …..and ends with Life is NOT a rehearsal.  I have a very distinct memory of Richie telling me that day, “Remember, Life Is Not A Rehearsal.” 

A month or so before his retirement he was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer.  Richie fought the cancer bravely but succumbed.  In the end, I don’t know if he regretted all that work and independence or not.  All I know is every time I hear Melt With You and Drift Away, I remember karaoking with Richie and sigh about what could have been.  Life is all about perspective. 

My dad is a hard one for me. 

He was there when I was very young but not there really much at all as I grew.  He wasn’t there when I learned to drive, went to college, got my first real job, suffered my first broken heart, moved into my first apartment, got married the first or second time and I literally had to set up a ruse with a friend to see him in the mid-2000s.   He made a lot of bad choices in his life and he admits this.  He has been trying to make amends during the past 6 years or so but he frustrates me A LOT.  When I NEEDED a dad, he wasn’t there.  I was hospitalized when I was 4 years old.  I had what I guess was stress induced blood filled colitis.  I can only assume my condition was caused by living in an environment that was coming apart into divorce and two households.  I remember those several days really clearly yet my father doesn’t recall this at all. That blows me away.   Now, he needs me and I’m here for him, but it is not always easy.

Without embarrassing him and now at 77 that he is on the internet, connected to the world and following what I do, say, cook and write, I don’t want to say anything more except that I have been cautioned by a friend who no longer has a father that I need to forgive all that and just accept what he is now and what we can be together.  It is about perspective and being grateful.  I am trying to see things from his side of life and trying to be more patient and kinder.  My gramma would have wanted that.  She died when I was 6.  I have only a few memories of her and in every one she adored me.  I felt it.  I’m glad I had her for even those few years.  I know it is more than many get to experience and my dad misses her every day.  She adored him too.

So yesterday, Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and 7 other people died in a tragic helicopter accident. I am not a basketball fan and probably have watched less than two minutes of professional basketball in my entire life.  However, I know who he was and that he was widely respected, revered as an athlete, family man, humanitarian and philanthropist.  He was also really young and had so much more to do. 

I can’t even imagine what his wife and surviving daughters are going through or the family and friends of the other people who died.  It is simply horrible.  I’m guessing they are thinking about what could have been if things had been different, if they had more time, if….. so many things. 

Photo by Taneli Lahtinen on Unsplash

No matter what happens, don’t waste your time on those useless activities.  In the end, I don’t think any of that will matter.  

We need to be present, appreciate every experience, good and bad and inhale and exhale deeply every breath we take because remember, Life is NOT a rehearsal.  No one knows how long we have here.  Make every moment count!  If life is all about perspective then try to take a step back and see your situations and relationships from the other side.  I’m going to really try to do better at this.  I want to have more empathy, more fun, less worry and stress, more quality time with friends and family away from my phone, sing more, publish my cookbook, volunteer more, exercise more, learn to bake REALLY good bread and see more of the world.